So we took off under cloudy skies and parked over near the little ski hill in Svolvaer. Its not a big place – tiny by any standard, but it deserves mention perhaps because it is what ski hills should be – cheap and run for the love of it. The whole thing is a non profit, run by the local parents of the kids in town – mostly so their kids will have a place to ski, race and generally get good at skiing – since the expectation is that when they have got the skills to really ski – they’ll head into the hills on their own as we do.
I like the idea of that: a ski hill acting as a feeder for a thriving ski-touring scene. Unfortunately – for the largest part of the skiing world, it’s the other way around. Although I am encouraged by the new interest in human-powered skiing – so much of it is all about beef and macho that I wonder how long it will be before lifts start getting built in the name of “access” and the only use for a set of DIN 16 Super-Bad Bindings with DeathGrip Boots and a stumble function is so you can skin from your runout back to the bar. To me that’s just a ski resort by another name – not that I mind ski resorts, but we’ve got enough of them.
So up we went, and despite some cloud, we managed to stay mostly out of the snow and rain- with occasional sun.
Up and around – with nice snow. The night before had given some fresh, so we made nice tracks all the way.
The air was quite cold though – so none of us was all that unhappy for a little lunch break out of the cold in a brand new hut of the Norwegian Trekking System (DNT). These things are all over Norway – and they are some of the nicest I have ever seen. Part of this is due to the lower traffic they see than many Alpine huts – but its also true that they are much newer, and that the Norwegians – being cancerously polite and ordered, take much better care of them than your typical French Weekend climbing / beerdrinking party.
This one was a beaut. It looked nicer than home!
We could have easily overnighted here. I wish we would have. As it was though, we had our lunch, warmed up, and tried to decide if we wanted to go back out or just take a nap in the sun on the couch.
In the end, most of us went – except Sabine – my wife of extraordinary beauty and intelligence. She stayed behind while the rest of us took a couple more laps. These were good – but I think a cuddle with the missus would have been good too.
Since I’ve given away the secret of these great huts – please keep in mind that they are not free. There is a small cost associated with them and you are on your honor to pay it. Please do – the fee finances the hut. You can find out more about the kinds of huts there are and how it all works by googling DNT.
Even our guide was having a bit of fun – and when I did a pro call-out on a guide running another group through – she filmed it. Smiles were everywhere.
Eventually – it was time to get gone though – so we looped around the hut and picked up this lady….
and continued on. There was a small climb, and then a small traverse with some flats to get us back to the top of the ski resort. Flats plus snowboarders – you guessed it:
And that was that!
When we got home – there was some of this:
Which was grilled – and tasted….well…..like kind of dry beef. Some claimed a slight fishy aftertaste – but I didn’t. We got the whole story from the owner of the lodge – it was a point with him.
It seems that the Norwegians allow limited whaling – and only of pilot whales. Accourding to him – these smaller whales have recovered, and while they can’t be fished in large numbers – the amount allowed by Norway is ok. Even that, he says, is not reached – and less than half the allowed amount is even taken.
I decided not to discuss it – also because I didn’t have any reason to disbelieve him. All in all though – even though it was ok – I’m not hankering for a whale steak in the future. You’re not missing a bunch – I can assure you.
A few beers – a few jokes – round disapproval of Tyler’s remarkably stinky socks – and off to bed.